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Why and How UK Road Speed Limits Vary

By: Simon McBride - Updated: 26 Aug 2016 | comments*Discuss
Why And How Uk Road Speed Limits Vary

The dictionary definition of a speed limit is: ”The maximum speed at which a vehicle may legally travel on a particular stretch of road.”

The UK has an array of speed limits, whether they’re in town or out of town the maximum limit that you can travel at is constantly changing as you pass through different areas so you must be on the look out and keep your concentration levels up.

Not only are there varying speed limits in the UK, different types of vehicles must adhere to varying speed limits.

  • 20mph zones - can usually be found in and around schools.
  • 30mph zones - are usually the limit when in built-up areas unless specified.
  • 40mph zones - can be found as you leave the centre of a town or city or when you have streetlights only on one side of the road.
  • 60mph/National Speed Limit - This is usually the maximum speed limit on outer urban roads, it is usually signified by the national speed Limit sign.
  • 70mph dual carriageways and motorways - This can also be signified by a National Speed Limit sign but when you are driving on this type of road the maximum speed limit is 70mph. Drivers must be careful of incidents on the motorway network and must keep an eye on overhead gantries as the speed limit on the motorways can vary when an incident has occurred.
  • Variable speed limits - The M25 is one of the best-known motorways in the world let alone the UK, stretches of this network always have a variable speed limit. This is usually because of the amount of traffic that the motorway has to cope with.
  • The speed limits on roadwork’s are also variable and concentration is vital as you may be in a contraflow system, 90 per cent of times roadwork’s especially when they are on motorways are monitored by speed cameras.

That’s you up to date with the UK limits but do you know what maximum speed your vehicle is allowed to travel at?

Cars and Motorcycles Including Car-derived Vans

  • Cars and motorcycles including car-derived vans that have a maximum laden weight of two tonnes are usually allowed to travel up to 30mph in built-up areas. Do watch out for local variances, as the speed limit can be lower or sometimes higher.
  • On single lane carriageways cars, motorcycles and car-derived vans (as above) can travel up to 60mph.
  • While on dual carriageways the limit is usually 70mph for Cars and motorcycles including car-derived vans (as above).
  • Cars towing trailers or caravans differ. In built-up areas the maximum speed limit is 30mph unless specified. On single carriageways the maximum speed limit is 50mph a reduction of 10mph because of the attached trailer or caravan. On dual carriageways and motorways the maximum speed limit while towing a trailer or caravan is set at 60mph.

Buses, Coaches and Minibuses

Buses, coaches and minibuses (not exceeding 12 metres in overall length) are subject to certain speed limits. In Built-up areas they have a maximum speed limit of 30mph unless specified. The speed restriction on single carriageways is 50mph while on dual carriageways the legal limit is 60mph and 70mph on a motorway for these types of vehicles.

Goods Vehicles or Light Commercial Vehicles

Goods vehicles or Light Commercial vehicles (not exceeding 7.5 tonnes in maximum laden weight) are restricted to 30mph in built-up areas unless specified. On single carriageways these LCVs are restricted to 50mph by law while on Dual Carriageways they can travel at 60mph and 70mph on motorways unless towing a trailer, which legally should restrict the limit to 60mph on a motorway.

Goods Vehicles Over 7.5 tonnes

Goods vehicles over 7.5 tonnes laden weight are restricted to 30mph in built-up areas while they are legally restricted to 40mph on single carriageways. When on dual carriageways and motorways the maximum speed limit for these vehicles is 50mph and 60mph respectively.

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Speeds quoted for over 7.5 t possibly now out of date
parrafinpete - 26-Aug-16 @ 1:36 PM
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